We recently made our first visit to the privately owned Ezemvelo Nature Reserve, located just over 70 kilometres to the east of Pretoria, near the town of Bronkhorstspruit.
Unfortunately the last twenty kilometres to the reserve’s entrance was a bone-shaking, teeth-rattling gauntlet along an extremely corrugated gravel road and we suspect many visitors turn around before they reach the reserve because of it. That’s a real pity, as we quickly found out that Ezemvelo is a gem of a place.
The reserve protects a fairly sizeable piece (4000 hectares) of typical Highveld grassland vegetation interspersed with wooded “koppies” (hills), and is watered by the Wilge River and some of its smaller tributaries. This diversity of habitats allows Ezemvelo to host a wide variety of game, including leopard, brown hyena, and both black and blue wildebeest, and almost 300 bird species have been recorded here.
Visitors can take on one of the many walking trails or cycle around the reserve to their heart’s content. Guided horse trails and day-or night game drives can be arranged, but the reserve also has an extensive network of roads that you can traverse in your own vehicle (though some sections are more suited to vehicles with high ground clearance). A swimming pool, dam (for fishing), putt-putt course and picnic sites are all available for visitors’ enjoyment. Chalet accommodation and a very shady and inviting camping area are available near the main reception complex, which also has a little shop with limited supplies. The two rustic hiking huts are beautifully located below a cliff and overlooks a pool in a small stream that is obviously a popular watering hole for many animals, while the three family huts nearby are situated in a rocky environment high above the river course below.
On the whole we were very impressed with Ezemvelo Nature Reserve. It offers a relaxing atmosphere, great facilities, a variety of experiences, good sightings of a wide variety of birds and animals and inspiring scenery. We will definitely return (but next time we’ll just phone ahead to hear what condition the access road is in).